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  • Wednesday, July 26, 2006


    a couple of secrets
    some fishing is good
    Some Fishing Is Great
    ..On the way from downtown West Yellowstone to the Gallatin River we drive over the Highway 191 bridge on the Madison River. If there are no "Tubers" or "Wormers" we take 20 minutes to check out a couple of hot holes.
    .. This part of the river is not in Yellowstone National Park, and you do need a Montana Fishing license. The river picture shows a big deep hole where, in the Fall, fish migrating from Hebgan Lake park and rest. This time of year big resident fish hang out there. Usually bait and gear fishers are sitting in lawn chairs and taking the fish - there always seems to be some.

    .. The area between the snowmobile bridge, and the highway has a couple of nice pockets that can be reached with a roll cast and your favorite sack of groceries. It's shaded, smooth and deep, protected, and - swallows have their nests here: the fish get all kinds of bugs to eat - it's not guaranteed . . . . . . BUT!
    . . The big parking area at Fawn Pass is fishing very nicely in the evening. This is cold water and, currently, the best fishing in the neighborhood. This is the confluence of the Gallatin River & Fan Creek. The braided channels hold surprises. Don't thump and bump through the brush. Despite what it feels like, this is saturated sediment and transmits your thumping very well. Stroll and enjoy the scenery. Sneak and peer at the water. Fish late in the day. The later - the better.
    .. Fan Creek has some very eager fish that have not been spooked too badly. Use some Royal Humpy flies. or a Big Wing Sparkle Caddis. Sizes 10 - 14. This will get the fish to visit.

    .. The hour or so between 8:00 and dark is most productive. Bring caddis imitations in sizes 10 - 16. We fished the ancient Shell Fly and took some nice 12" fish. Caddis and spinners in the cool of the morning and caddis in the evening or a hopper-dropper will do fine.

    .. The trail from the parking lot to the Fan Creek meadows goes through the trees. If you take the trail you will miss 300 to 500 yards of the best fishing which is along the lower course of the Fan Creek shown in the picture. Get off the trail, walk gently, sneak up on the good water - you only get one cast.
    .. We had a break from the heat during the last two days. It was gray. It drizzled. It rained a bit. The clouds came low and visited mere mortals; and fishing on the Gallatin River went from very good to spectacular. (This can happen in Traverse City too, according to Dave Richey.)
    ..There were fewer folks, there were hungrier fish, and the bugs found our nose and ears. Trico's-a-plenty in the morning; along with spinners. PMD's at noon - along with caddis. Caddis in the afternoon; along with hoppers & PMD's. Hoppers in the evening: along with caddis. Sadly, the heat is scheduled to return for another week or so. This being the case, fish early to the spinners, or very late to the caddis.

    .. There is some progress being made against whirling disease. This is the good news. For all of the story click HERE.

    .. If you need a break from the trinket stores in West Yellowstone, take a mid day break on the Madison River. The snags and pockets along Riverside Drive are producing good fish in the shade. Use a light gray casual dress, (size 10 - 14.)
    .. The Yellowstone River has a few good fish to be caught. You will have to fish hard, and you will have to pick both the fish and the fly. The 40-fish days are long gone, and we prefer not to fish this river at all. Even in the best of all worlds about 20% of all released fish die. If you must fish here, you'll need some flav's, (16 - 18,) PMD's, (14 - 16,) and caddis, (10 - 14.)
    .. Nez Perce Creek is a good place to find shade and willing fish. The stretch between the Chief Joseph Story Board and the Confluence with the Firehole River has shade and wary - but hungry - fish. Hoppers are beginning to work here.
    .. It's not too long a walk to the Little Firehole River or Iron Spring Creek. Take a stroll at dusk and carry small hoppers, (10 - 14,) and small dark caddis, (12 - 16.) Be careful you don't sink in a deeply undercut bank, and don't challenge any bison.
    .. The Gibbon River is getting harder, (and more rewarding,) by the day. Both Elk & Gibbon Meadows still have eager fish but they are very 'twitchy.' Fish late in the day with some small hoppers, (size 10 - 14.) Be on the look out for the locally heavy small caddis. These dark little flies are size 14 -16, and may only occur in a 200 yard stretch. If you're there when it happens; you can tell the story of the Gibbon in summer.
    .. The N.E. Trinity has come into it's own. When it's clear the Lamar River is producing good Cutts to 14" at the long riffle by Buffalo Ranch. There probably won't be too many folks because of the walk. Hoppers and beetles will work all day; there are caddis both in the morning and evening.
    .. The shadows in the canyon are the places to fish Soda Butte Creek. This is pocket water at it's finest. It's narrow in spots and hard to stay on the bank - but do it. There are fish everywhere and if you spook one, the cascading panic may cost you an hour of futility. Walk softly and use a short light rod. A 6-1/2 foot 4-weight is great. Leaders and tippets should be short and fine, (6' overall is maximum, & if your cast is 15', it's too far.) Terrestrials of any stripe in sizes 10 -16 are the ticket to play here.
    .. The rush to Slough Creek has started. The transition from mayflies to hoppers produces some of the finest fishing this river has to offer. Throw in some caddis, toss in an ant or two, and don't forget your beetles - boy do these Cutts eat well. There are still flies and mosquitoes but that is just part of the story you can tell when you get back home.

    .. Heart Lake is producing Lake Trout on flies. Dragons and big nymphs, (in sizes 8 -12,) in the reeds and marshy edges during the evening will produce. If you fish 'til dark, be sure to sing loudly and have good headlight batteries on the way out.
    .. Shoshone & Lewis Lakes are beginning to show action in the connecting river. Float tube and canoe fishing is beginning to be productive. If you drag your tube that far - don't forget a box full of ants and beetles. Because of the warm weather the terrestrials are in full bloom.

    .. For one of the most beautiful pictures of a Brook Trout & lessons on deep breathing at high altitude visit the Trout Underground.
    .. The National Geographic gives us some timely information on a FROG JUICE bug repellent. We'll wait.
    .. For those of you intent on precision and the technical aspects of one-fish-one-fly; Westfly has an excellent article on the stages of the PMD hatch. Read it now and tie some.
    .. Mark at blogfish brings us a sad - even frightening tale of the state of the ocean and the invasion of jelly fish. Read it and weep for your grandchildren.
    .. As mentioned previously, Huey's Ditch, (a song or a whine?) is making big news. MidCurrent has picked up this story. The results of this case will affect you! Even the New York Times has noticed.
    .. The Gaurdian tells us that science is about to discover the difference between ourselves and Neanderthals. They haven't seen this year's crop of visitors to Yellowstone.